"Of all the things that are capable of creating fear for me, heights would be up there at the top of my dread list.
When I was eighteen and worked in the mill, each evening as I walked home at the end of the shift I would pass the tall chimney of approximately 100 metres in height that stood in the centre of the mill yard. It was at that time, the only thing I knowingly feared in the world as I'd never been one for heights.
Because my flawed personality at the time, I believed that any fear could be conquered and ought to be conquered. Because I could not tolerate the notion of entertaining the existence of any fear, I determined to climb it for a £5 bet. There was a metal ladder permanently attached to the outside of the chimney that stretched from bottom to top which had room to be climbed from either outside or inside its metal strutts that were anchored to the old brick chimney.
On the evening in question I climbed to the top of the chimney from the outside of the ladder. It took almost fifteen minutes of sheer terror that no amount of money would ever have induced me to repeat. I foolishly decided to come back down by using the inside of the ladder. This naturally heightened my fear level as I was looking out on the drop instead of gazing at the red brick of the chimney.
In later years, I learned that we all have fears and that it is natural and even healthy to have some fear to maintain our continued safety. My work in the field of Stress Management taught me that with the fears we don't desire, the aim is to recognise and 'to manage them' instead of seeking to eradicate them. I recently came across the image of this almost vertical stone stairs at Machu Picchu in Peru. Just looking at the drop in the beautiful photograph gives me the shivers!" William Forde: November 1st, 2014.